It smelled like Britain Thursday. Britain has two distinctive smells in Chris Brain -- aromas that automatically rush forward every memory I have of this place. As if my olfactory memory were a DMV waiting room that uses binary.
The first smell is bus exhaust. A child of the suburbs, I somehow managed not to take in a great deal of it until living in Portsmouth. So, now that sweet choking smell of burnt diesel floods memories like perfume of the girl who broke my heart in high school.
That's a rhetorical simile more than one that actually reflects my experience. The only perfume that cues girl-specific memories is that which was worn by Kirsten Can't-Remember-Spelling-Of-Her-Surname. And those aren't particularly brilliant memories.
She was an odd duck, that gal. She tasted of menthol. Interpret that sentence however you like and you'll probably be right. Her perfume was equally distinctive -- sickly sweet. Very strangely, it was the exact same smell as whatever's used to clean the men's toilets at Groveland Tap in St. Paul, Minn.
Anyhoo, the other British Aroma is the deep earth, flowers and je ne sais quoi that hangs lightly in the air when the weather is nice and the sun shines here. It is wholly unique of anything experienced in the United States. It is the smell of trips to a country pub or sitting around in my garden or the tired aimless first few weeks of Rachel and I living here.
The arrival of that aroma Thursday was unexpected. Just for a day it was unseasonably warm and perfect. I went for a run and then sat outside watching dinner napkins sway on the laundry line like prayer flags.
It has been a rough few weeks in Radyr Way, or at least that tiny part of it that is my head. Thursday was a welcome respite (Does anyone ever use the word "respite" outside of the phrase "a welcome respite?"). Visiting Dublin broke the monotony -- I was thankfully too focused on regaling my hosts with directionless (and almost certainly factually inaccurate) tales to hear those rumblings in my soul -- but Thursday was the first time for me to sit still comfortable in my aloneness.
Aloneness. I turned 32 a few weeks ago and it seems to have rattled me in a way I can't shake. I spent that evening alone. I didn't get any birthday cards from friends. There are all kinds of caveats there, of course. Llŷr shared a few pints with me on the afternoon of my birthday. I expected cards from no one -- especially my friends back in the United States. The event isolated, though, it was shit.
But, as the Welsh are fond of saying, there you are. Thursday was good.